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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver hires LPC West to develop downtown Waterfront Gateway project

Construction slated to begin in spring of 2025; housing, retail featured

By Carlos Fuentes, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 12, 2023, 6:06am
6 Photos
The city of Vancouver's Waterfront Gateway development aims to be its own district and also connect Esther Short Park to The Waterfront Vancouver.
The city of Vancouver's Waterfront Gateway development aims to be its own district and also connect Esther Short Park to The Waterfront Vancouver. (Otak Architects Inc.) Photo Gallery

The city of Vancouver has hired the Portland office of  LPC West to develop the city-owned Waterfront Gateway site directly south and west of City Hall.

The developer agreement — approved by the Vancouver City Council on Monday night — promises to bring hundreds of housing units and thousands of jobs to the 6.4-acre site in downtown Vancouver, located on the two blocks south of West Sixth Street bisected by Esther Street.

Construction of the project will begin in spring of 2025 and finish in late 2027, according to a city staff presentation. The city first named LPC West as project partner in 2021.

“For roughly the past 21 months, we’ve been working with LPC West to really develop a site plan that worked for the vision, for the site, that worked for everybody,” Patrick Quinton, the city’s economic development director, said at a Monday public hearing.

In August 2022, Quinton said the project could break ground by the end of 2023, but the timeline stalled due to “a number of unforeseen financial and site-related challenges,” said Mark Fazio, president of the City Center Redevelopment Authority.

Project elements

The project aligns with Vancouver’s long-term vision in several ways, according to city staff, especially regarding housing and environmental efforts.

Once complete, the four-building project will provide 435 housing units — including 95 affordable units — 35,000 square feet of retail space, a parking garage and 2 acres of outdoor public spaces, according to a city presentation.

To address Vancouver’s housing crisis, the site’s 95 affordable housing units will be allocated for residents earning 60 percent or less of the area’s median family income.

The city intends for the project to provide a welcoming public space between Esther Short Park and the waterfront community. To achieve this, the project will have multiple plazas, a private park for residents and ground-floor retail spaces.

In compliance with the city’s interim green building policy, all the buildings will meet LEED Gold requirements and minimize light pollution. Also, 10 percent of the parking garage’s stalls will have electric vehicle chargers, and tree canopies will cover at least 15 percent of the site’s area in an effort to enhance cooling and improve stormwater drainage.

The site will add 510 parking spots to the area, mostly in a six-story parking garage and partial underground parking.

“Development of the site plan involved significant community engagement,” said Patrick Gilligan, executive vice president for LPC’s Pacific Northwest region, in a press release. “Community input regarding parking, accessibility, outdoor space and sustainability informed us during the design process.”

According to city staff, the project will create more than 3,400 temporary or permanent jobs. The city will prioritize small businesses by granting them the right of first refusal for certain retail spaces, said Amy Zoltie, the city’s project manager.

Developer selection

The city chose to hire LPC West because of the firm’s experience with large-budget development projects, such as the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 1 and the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Portland.

Zoltie said city staff believed that LPC West “was the most qualified to accomplish the city’s desired outcomes,” citing its financial capacity and national-scale resources.

“And they would be in the best position to bring major employers to downtown Vancouver,” Zoltie said. “And then lastly, but very much not least, it was their commitment to equity and inclusion, and their relationships with Black and Indigenous and people of color contractors.”

In a future project, LPC West hopes to add a 100,000-square-foot office building at the site, which the city council approved Monday night. “LPC West has full intention of developing the office building when the office capital markets stabilize,” a city memo states.

The city council unanimously approved the development agreement. Next, LPC West will work on the design and permitting process until construction begins in spring 2025.

“It’s a very different kind of product for Vancouver, and I’m excited to see what it’s going to become,” Mayor Pro Tem Ty Stober said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the location of LPC West. 

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Columbian staff writer